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Difficult start for Hodgson and Xaus

Difficult start for Hodgson and Xaus

Difficult start for Hodgson and Xaus

MotoGP newcomers Ruben Xaus and Neil Hodgson endured a disappointing first Grand Prix of the season at Welkom on Sunday, both lapping inside the points positions before being forced to retire. The D'Antin MotoGP riders had their hopes cut short when first Xaus, and later Hodgson, were forced into the pits with mechanical problems on their Ducati Desmosedici GP3 machines.

For Xaus, who finished runner-up to his team-mate in the World Superbike series last year, it was a particularly disappointing turn of events after making a scorching start from the sixth row to join the hunt for an unthinkable top ten position.

"It's a shame because I'd shown all weekend that I had a good rhythm and that I could get a good finish," commented Xaus, who returned to his home in Barcelona on Tuesday.

"Looking at how they rode, I think I could have been amongst the top six. I'm not a specialist qualifier but in the race I blossom, and I had a great start but on the fifth lap we had a small electrical problem and I had to return to the pits. As they always say, that's racing, and there's still fifteen of them left. Next time out it's Jerez and I prefer to think about then."

Hodgson, who had previous Grand Prix experience at 125cc and 500cc level, was forced into the garage with thirteen laps remaining on the verge of completing his pre-race objective of finishing top-twelve.

"It's a bit frustrating to not finish the first race, but the bike began to play up and I had to stop," commented the British rider. "Anyway, I have to keep working hard, because I never got comfortable in Welkom, perhaps because of the track's conditions too. I'm still learning but I need to keep doing so, because now I'm thinking about Jerez, which is a circuit that I know and which I like quite a bit."

Team boss Luis d´Antin admitted it had been a frustrating weekend for the whole squad but added his delight at the performance of his two riders. "Starting out is always hard, and both myself and the team know that there is a lot of potential in our two riders, and I hope we can demonstrate that as soon as possible.

"Ruben has been great here all three days, and I don't think that he went unnoticed by anybody. Neil has also shown that he is capable of working brilliantly and undoubtedly this will take him to great results soon enough".

MotoGP, 2004

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